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What Do We Know About Maple Leafs’ Draftee Matthew Knies?

The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted one Arizona lad – Auston Matthews turned out good. How will the next Arizona draftee – Matthews Knies- do?

If it worked once, maybe it will work again. On Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs decided to go after another young hockey player from in the desert when they chose 18-year-old Matthew Knies. It will be tough to top Maple Leafs’ star center Auston Matthews, but who knows?

Matthews is one of the few players to make the NHL come out of Arizona. In fact, he’s second in goals scored from Arizona players. Sean Couturier is the leading goal-scorer for any player born in Arizona; however, the fact is that, regardless of however many goals Matthews scores, he’ll never overtake Couturier for the lead of Arizona-born NHL players.

That’s because Matthews wasn’t born in Arizona; he was born in San Ramon, California. He just grew up in the Phoenix area.

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Regardless of Place of Birth, the Maple Leafs Hope Knies Becomes a Good Player

California or Arizona, it looks like the Maple Leafs are seeking another star from the desert. With their 57th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the organization choose Matthew Knies.

Knies 2020-21 Season Was Setback with COVID-19

Knies has size, at 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds. But the word on him (so far) is that he’s always going to be a winger because he needs a strong center to assist his scoring prowess. He has a hard time generating his own offense. What he does do well is shoot, and he’s strong with the puck and has great wrists. All that, with a higher than average skill set on the offensive end of the ice.

Knies might be a bit of a risk, but the Maple Leafs obviously were ready to take a chance.

He didn’t light up the league during his second USHL season, scoring only 42 points in 44 games. Knies finished only 26th in points-per-game with 42 points in 44 games. That put him 14th among all 18-and-under USHL players. However, he got off to a slow start during the season scoring only eight points in 16 games. In part, that slow start was because Knies contracted Covid-19 and it took him a while to regain his strength.

However, when he did recover, he had a strong final month of the season.

Knies Will Be Attending the University of Minnesota Next Fall

Late in the spring, Knies committed to the University of Minnesota’s NCAA’s hockey program and plans to attend in the coming fall.

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It Might Have Taken Knies Some Time to Find His Game, But He Has

Given his October 2002 birthdate, Knies is one of the older first-year draft eligibles. He’s described by the 2021 Blackbook as playing, “a technical, hybrid power forward game… one of the rarest players you can find, in the sense that he can beat the first layer with his speed, frame, and range. He can then beat the second layer with his exceptional hands, and beat the third layer by using his deception and dual-threat attributes. He has it all, but it took him time.”

It’s very likely the Maple Leafs relied on insider knowledge to make this draft choice. In fact, an advantage Knies had as a player in this draft is that the organization probably knows him well as a player. Ryan Hardy, the Maple Leafs’ recently-hired Senior Director of Minor League Operations, must have seen him play regularly in the USHL.

Given what I know about Hardy’s reputation at choosing good players, Knies should be fun to watch as he comes through the ranks of the Maple Leafs’ organization. But could he approach the success the first Matthew(s) has had with the team? Who knows?

Maple Leafs’ fans can always hope.

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